European Vision for Sustainable Agriculture
The European Vision for Sustainable Agriculture is a guiding document for the way forward and addressed the shortcomings in the water sector as it pertains to the agricultural sector on the continent. It puts people at the centre by using lessons learned on best practices from farmers and their practices and activating a dialogue by bringing stakeholders together in the CAPWaSA platform.
At the moment the Vision is currently undergoing public consultation, you can participate by responding to the short questionnaire here.
The European Vision for Sustainable Agriculture uses the Water Vision for Europe as a starting point recognizing the value of water for economic, social, environmental and cultural purposes. Agricultural water use therefore respects water not only as crucial for a continued food supply, but a life source of humanity. We strongly support that the water needs of Europe’s agricultural sector can be satisfied without negatively impacting the water demands and needs of the population at large.
Furthermore, the Vision is based on the four pillars of water stewardship: sustainable water abstraction, good water quality, protection of high conservation value areas and equitable water governance. Water stewardship works on the understanding water challenges must be addressed in a collective manner and on a local basis.
The Vision will remain a living document that will be amended and refined as the objectives are achieved.
- We have developed robust financing models, hinging on effective European and national policies and legislation, which support farmers to become water stewards without hampering farming operations.
- We use positive incentives to promote behaviour change and ensure that high yield, low impact agricultural practices and innovative technologies and techniques are rewarded.
- We have extension services in place to help farmers receive support and training to engage in holistic governance systems at both farm and river-basin levels.
- We have adopted high yield, low impact agricultural practices which ensure against wastage, spoilage, pollution and are supportive of prevention rather than mitigation.
- We have achieved a change of mind-set in the agricultural sector in Europe and farmers across the continent via dialogue and cooperation between farmers, river basin authorities and water services providers and all apply themselves to support of high yield, low impact practices.
- We prioritise the application of innovative measures and farming methods to counter the potentially devastating and unforeseen effects in dealing with floods, drought and any other consequence brought about by climate change, so that the impacts of such occurrences are countered.
- We support farmers who actively address water quality risks of ground and surface water contamination by implementing scientifically-sound water quality protection practices. Farmers are collaborating in participatory monitoring approaches via established networks and discussion platforms, such as CAPWaSA.
- We use the most efficient irrigation technologies and abstraction practices to reduce the impact on sensitive sources such as groundwater, minimize water losses resulting from the use of old technologies. Efficient and effective water discharge methods and technologies are used to prevent and avoid flooding.
- At local level, we have put into practice eco-sensitive water governance systems and agricultural water use complies with the principles of transparency, integrity, solidarity and equity. River basin authorities assist farmers operating in high-risk areas in terms of nutrient sensitive zones and drinking water catchments.
- At EU level, we have in place sound regulatory policies on the basis of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) which are fully implemented and clarify agricultural obligations and cost distribution among water users and beneficiaries. We ensured that stakeholder engagement at all levels drives policy developments and farmers actively participates in collaborative governance decision when it comes to existing policies and EU legislation.